Wednesday 1 June 2016

Giving it Five for Bloody Scotland in Stirling

The Bloody Scotland 2016 programme launched today in Stirling at The Golden Lion hotel, our main base for the crime writing festival this year. It’s incredible to think that this is the festival’s fifth birthday.

Bloody Scotland 2012 (Ian Rankin, Alex Gray, Lin Anderson)

The idea of a Bloody Scotland came into being at a CWA (Crimewriters Association) Conference in beautiful Lincoln as Alex Gray, Alanna Knight and I pondered why, despite Scotland producing so many successful crime writers, we did not have a festival to celebrate ‘our other national export’. From such musings, helped by the now legendary second bottle of Prosecco, Bloody Scotland was conceived.

Three years in the planning and organising, it was born in September 2012, with the title 'Bloody Scotland' coined by Alex, and the historic location of Stirling (ideal for a festival with such a name) selected by the committee of volunteers, which included crime writers Craig Robertson and Gordon Brown.

Launch event for Bloody Scotland 2012 

The first Bloody Scotland launch event took place at the Stirling Museum and Art Gallery in Stirling, with Ian Rankin pointing out that ‘Scandinavia doesn’t have better crime writers than Scotland. It has better PR’, which was exactly the challenge that Bloody Scotland was set up to address. And it has. Five years after its inaugural year, almost anyone interested in crime writing  knows the name Bloody Scotland.

Dedicated to encouraging and showcasing new Scottish talent through our Bloody Scotland Masterclasses and our Pitch Perfect competition, which has seen three new authors reach publication, it also celebrates current excellence via The Scottish Crime Book of the Year Award.

Bloody Scotland isn’t just a weekend event. Our authors go out year long into prisons and schools, and to libraries and appear at other festivals, including Bouchercon and Left Coast Crime in the USA, and at the Apeejay Kolkata Literary Festival in India, to promote Scotland and our crime writing.

With over 50 authors and 35 events over multiple venues across Stirling, and with audience numbers close on 6,000 in 2015, this year promises to be even bigger. Running three steams of events simultaneously over the weekend allows us to promote new Scottish crime writing, showcase our established authors, and feature international and UK stars.

This year we are partnered by Bookdonors, a Social Enterprise company with a strong ethical focus, who endorse our initiatives to widen public access, while supporting established and emerging authors.

Bloody Scotland also aims to bring a fresh look at the world of crime fiction, working with scientists, police professionals and the Open University to inform and of course entertain our audiences.

Perhaps our greatest achievement to date has been to bring new audiences to the work of  the late William McIlvanney, arguably the Godfather of Tartan Noir. This year will see both the festival and the Crime Book of the Year award dedicated to his memory.

William McIlvanney at rhe opening event of Bloody Scotland 2012

A festival such as Bloody Scotland is not just a single event, but 35 performances, all of them unique, from hilarity with Chris Brookmyre to last year’s gruesome fascination via the forensic wonder of maggots with Val McDermid. From newly published writers being given the opportunity to do a reading in front of a sell out audience of 700, to staging crime dramas where the actors are your favourite authors. And, perhaps, the most exuberant event of them all, the annual Scotland/England crime writers’ football match, with Ian Rankin captaining Scotland (his dream) … and that one’s free.

Truly Bloody Scotland is a unique Scottish blend of the serious, the quirky and the outright outrageous. And the audiences keep coming back for more… from Scotland, UK, USA and all over Europe.

Bloody Scotland 2016 runs from 9th-11th September. More details and ticket sales here: